Kerala floods: Improper dam management partly to blame for disaster, says amicus curae report to HC
The Opposition hit out at the CPI-led government and demanded Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s resignation.
Lapses in dam management aggravated the floods in Kerala last August, according to a report filed by the amicus curae (friend of the court) who is assisting the Kerala High Court in a slew of cases related to the 2018 deluge in the state, PTI reported on Wednesday.
The report, considered to be damning to the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front government in the state, also recommended an in-depth inquiry into the floods by an expert committee headed by a former Supreme Court judge.
More than 483 people were killed, several lakhs were displaced and property worth more than Rs 30,000 crore damaged in one of the state’s worst-ever floods last year.
In his 49-page report, which PTI said it has accessed, amicus curae Jacob P Alex said that none of the 79 dams in the state were being used for flood control in the manner stipulated by the National Water Policy and the National Disaster Management Authority guidelines. Alex recommended an inquiry into the alleged lapses in dam management by a committee comprising a hydrologist, dam management experts and engineers.
Alex was appointed amicus curae last year to assist the Kerala High Court, which is hearing multiple cases related to the floods. One of these was by E Sreedharan, who spearheaded the Delhi metro project, alleging that the floods were a “man-made disaster”.
In his report, Alex said that most of the state’s reservoirs were almost full when heavy rainfall occurred in mid August. “Sudden release of water simultaneously from different reservoirs during extreme rainfall aggravated the damage,” the report said, according to PTI. The report also claimed that once the dam safety levels were breached, “no proper follow-up action and effective precautionary steps (especially for evacuating people and accommodating them in safe location) were taken”.
Opposition demands resignations
The Opposition hit out at the Left Democratic Front government on the report and demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
“Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should answer for the lives which had been lost and property destroyed,” said Ramesh Chennithala, Congress member and Kerala’s leader of Opposition.
BJP State President PS Sreedharan Pillai said, “The Left government cannot hide away from the responsibility of the worst ever flood which had hit the state. Murder charges should be slapped against the chief minister, power minister and the concerned officials.”
State Power Minister MM Mani, meanwhile, reportedly refused to answer questions from the media. “I have nothing to say on this....you clear out from here,” PTI quoted him as saying. “If I ask you people to go out, you should get out from here.”